SEO Creativity


Have you ever had a blog post idea knocking around your head for weeks and you just can’t get the chance or motivation to write about it?

I have mentioned creativity in seo before, unfortunately it’s something I rarely see talked about as an important part of seo.

Consider this:

“The birth of an idea may be preceded and followed by modes of attention that are much more focused, purposeful and intellectual”

from pp14 The Creative Thinking Plan by Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas

“Modes of attention”, interesting that it’s in the plural, as if we have to spend a lot of time thinking about a thing when we are in different mental states. Attacking the issue from different parts of our mind.

I no longer call myself an SEO and have not done for a long time, (if I ever was one) and I now the pursue the path of viral content creator, or online buzz marketer or what is commonly known in the business as linkbaiting. This requires a truck full of creativity each day, but creativity takes time.

It takes time to be creative, it’s probably the most important think I teach my linkbaiting students over at, a good piece of linkbait will take up to ten days. Most of that is spent thinking and throwing away ideas. The ability to spot a bad idea is as important as coming up with the idea in the first place.

You need that time because the mind has to go through it’s different modes to come up with that idea. Now I know people who have taken 15 minutes to create a piece of linkbait and it’s a great success. But, you will probably find that the idea has been at the back of their minds fermenting and going through the editing process whilst snug in the sub-consciousness.

The true test is to be presented with a subject you are unfamiliar with and you have to start cold. It can involve a lot of walking, thinking and looking into the distance. It involves getting your brain to perform different modes of attention whilst thinking of the problem.

The same is with SEO, getting creative with SEO and not simply copying what others are doing can give you the edge. Most techniques when they hit the public are over. It’s those people who can see things in different ways and challenge the perceived wisdom. Usually the perceived wisdom is wrong as it follows what worked yesterday. To be a creative SEO you need to be thinking about what can work tomorrow.

I’m a natural contrarian, I believe will live in cycles and if someone says “don’t do that, it no longer works”, time to look at it closely. What I find also is that some things that are talked about in the SEO blogosphere are complete crap. A lot of the time you read something and you know it works because you are doing it and yet it goes hot on Sphinn, people are commenting and saying “good point”. Best thing is just to keep quiet and let them get on with it.

But when you start doing the opposite of what the masses do, strange things happen. You stumble across things which work and which no one else is doing. When that happens, you have struck SEO gold and you keep quiet about it (unless it can bump you up a couple of pay grades but that’s another matter), you then notice people saying it used to work a few years ago but not anymore.

To achieve real success in this business, you have to get creative. Which was what I was doing with my spoof news linkbait stories. It was a technique that has been used successfully by a number of people for years, no wonder they wanted to keep it quiet.

In the end, getting creative might lead you off the garden path and into the sharp toothed man traps Matt Cutts has laid for you, or you may get lynched by the foaming at the mouth blogosphere. No matter, you are in this business for results not some hippy-geek-ethos. You find what works and then you do what works.

I completely went off my target for this post, I wanted to talk and discuss creativity more. Ah well, stream of consciousness it will have to be

9 replies on “Creativity”

Wow, creative post.
I really like the point about not doing the same old shit over and over again.
(and you said that way better) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Good post. It reminds me a lot of the core message(s) in the books “Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite” by Paul Arden, and “The Art of Looking Sideways” by Alan Fletcher. I think you’d really enjoy both of those books if you don’t have them already. They’ve certainly helped open my mind up to the sort of stuff you’re talking about.

I couldn’t agree more that creativity is a must for getting the competitive edge in SEO, and especially in linkbuilding. My feeling tells me that self-employed SEO’s are more creative than their colleagues within SEO companies, don’t you think?

@Eduard, I have only ever worked in a corporate seo environment as a freelancer and it is so different. What amazes me is how slow things happen and a corporate environment is not conducive to creative thinking.

Which is why they outsource to people like me for things like linkbait.

I think also that seo companies attract a certain type of person who just wants their paycheck and then Friday comes and they are out of there. I think the self employed ones are a bit more obsessive and passionate about the industry.

@Lyndoman That’s exactly the way how I feel about it. I’ve worked as a freelancer for a short time and since a year I work for search company Outrider in the Netherlands. As you might know, Outrider is the search brand for WPP’s media buying and planning arm GroupM, which can be classified as corporate ๐Ÿ™‚

However I think that Outrider in the Netherlands is unique. In the Netherlands we’re building an individual search unit in which we have a lot of freedom and room for creativity. Of course it’s a challenge to maintain that as we’re growing… (but than I can go freelancing again ;-)..)

Ah, it feels good to have your opinion reinforced hehe. I did a search for “creativity in SEO” and landed on your site.

I’m thinking a lot about what it takes to make something successful/how to be successful myself in certain fields..I think if you understand the factors you can manipulate them to your favor and make them work for you…by choosing a career that overlaps with your strengths or by targeting the “sneezers” to make your “idea spread”, etc..

So being a relative newbie to SEO and internet marketing (well 2 years), I’ve been wondering what it takes to be successful at SEO. Before I started, I thought it was all about technical computer stuff..but now I’ve come to the c onclusion that if youre working on your own sites the “aptitude” that sets a great SEO apart from an average SEO.

Anyone of average intelligence can probably learn enough about how the search engines work if they’re really interested in it. But what makes great SEOs more successful than another SEO is the ability to manipulate those factors to their favor (that, btw, is why I think it’s silly when SEOs say “Google keep their algorithm a secret, because if people knew how it works everyone could rank no.1” – everyone knows they need links from authoritative relevant sites, but everyone cant get them).

Links are clearly the most important factor to manipulate (that everyone can’t do) these days and the main talent to be able to do that seems to be creativity to me.

If user data ever becomes really important, people will find out that they have to create (favor) content that makes their users stay longer on their site, etc. but creativity will be the factor that’ll allow people to create that kind of content.

Those are just my thoughts, though and I’m not really sure! What do you think of this?

If you had to predict who’ll be the better SEO – all else being equal – would you rather pick somebody with

A. high intelligence, somewhat above average creativity


B. somewhat above average intelligence, but high creativity


PS: Of course passion, drive and strategic thinking are very important, too!

Actually, I’m into analytical thinking a lot (as you might have noticed), but if I think about it deeply I’d say analytical intelligence (or “general intelligence” whatever that is) doesn’t seem to be the decisive factor in SEO – meaning it’s just a threshold..but whether somebody is good at it or off the scale doesn’t really matter..whereas it seems to matter with creativity!

..but now I?ve come to the c onclusion that if youre working on your own sites the ?aptitude? that sets a great SEO apart from an average SEO is not analytical thinking, technical skill, etc. etc. but creativity …….is what I meant to say where my comment makes no sense, at all ๐Ÿ˜‰

I believe that creativity is so important when deciding what to write about. Its great when you come up with a subtle idea that gets some big reactions.

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